Disaster preparedness and response

While disasters are often unpredictable, the harm they cause can be mitigated or partly prevented.

WHO/Europe works closely with Member States and international and national partners to help communities:

  • prepare for disasters,
  • deal with their health consequences and
  • mitigate their long-term effects.

Communities are particularly vulnerable when local and national systems, specifically health systems, cannot cope with the consequences of a crisis. This may be because they are overwhelmed by a sudden increase in demand or because the institutions that underpin them are weak and cannot deliver what is expected.

Crises can be triggered by:

  • sudden catastrophic events, such as earthquakes, floods and industrial accidents;
    complex and continuing emergencies, including violent conflict, population displacement or dramatic political change;
  • slow onset processes, such as the gradual breakdown of a country’s social institutions due to economic decline, environmental pollution or degradation, or the impact of an evolving pandemic.